Around 100 workers from Peabody’s Helensburgh mine marched through the small township to the company’s office yesterday before voting on a new pay deal.
Many of the workers donned Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union T-shirts, with some carrying signs in protest of the multinational miner.
One sign read: “Peabody Greed”, while another said: “When You Work With Peabody Your [sic] A Nobody”.
Heated negotiations over the new enterprise agreement has resulted in multiple strikes and bans on production by the workforce and lock-outs by the company over the last month.
Peabody is offering a two year deal that would see workers receive zero, two and two, pay percentage increases plus bonuses.
However, the CFMEU argues the deal would put workers’ wages behind those at other Illawarra operations, and are calling for a four per cent wage increase in exchange for a four per cent sacrifice on bonuses.
Speaking at the rally yesterday Helensburgh CFMEU lodge president Andy Davey accused the company of “crying poor”, stating the miner had posted a third-quarter profit of $1.8 billion globally this year.
He also said the Metropolitan Colliery posted a profit of more than $52 million in 2012, The Illawarra Mercury reported.
‘‘Our government is selling out for a quick profit and the money’s going overseas,’ Davey said.
Peabody has maintained it's commitment to come to an agreement which “reflects current market conditions, lifts productivity, reduces costs, enhances safety and provides greater job security for Metropolitan mine employees.”
The company’s chief operations officer, George Schuller, sent a letter to employees urging them to vote up the pay deal, stating that continued strikes would result in “more in unpaid wages than can be recovered even under the most optimistic negotiated outcome”.
‘‘We want to conclude the negotiations with our employees as soon as possible and enable the mine to resume normal production for the benefit of all,” he said.
Workers at the mine are expected to continue strike action today.
Image: SYLVIA LIBER